“Frustration is fuel that can lead to the development of an innovative and useful idea.” –Marley Dia
By Cosmas Omegoh
These are sad times for Katsina State governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari.
Forget about the benefits accruing to him as executive governor. Forget about the strong words that come out from his lips which often translate to law in his domain. Truth be told, here are unsavoury moments for the Katsina State helmsman.
In politics, if Masari is not a veteran, he is not a novice either. He has paid his dues. Indeed, no one can deny the former Speaker of House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007 his rightful place in the Nigerian political space. Who will omit Masari’s name? A man who by May 2023, shall have served out two terms as the governor of Katsina State? But all that aside, right now, Masari is not finding government and governance easy or so it seems.
Yes, there is indeed no construct in the face to determine the heart of man, said legendary William Shakespeare. But the good book insists ‘from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’
Circumstances around Masari betray him as a man under siege, under a huge burden. It is the burden of the insecurity currently ravaging his state; that everyone knows too well. It seems to break him; is there for everyone to see. But who would not be broken by the heavy wind of insecurity sweeping like an angry hurricane across the Sahelian state on the fringes of Niger Republic?
Going to years now, Katsina which is the home state of the incumbent president, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has been in the firm grip of self-proclaimed and now officially crowned bandits who swept down from the Sahara desert – massacring, maiming, raping, kidnapping, abducting, pillaging, stealing – perpetuating the worst form of bestiality never to be seen in history. They swoop down in unbelievable numbers on hundreds on motor bikes, and once they are done, they leave evidence-based criminality walking on all fours.
This is the silhouette of the atmosphere under which Governor Masari has been operating over the past years. His dilemma each time resurrects the eternal line that uneasy lies the head that wears the golden crown.
Judging by the quantum of evil which Masari has had to deal with – or rather has had to endure, clear signs appear each time that he is increasingly being broken by instalments. Who will not after all? Even beasts buckle under heavy burden.
At the moment, Masari’s dilemma shows. He has tried various options on the table to cut back on banditry in his state, but he doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere near neither success nor victory. Nothing tangible to show for his efforts. And even President Buhari who would pass for his ‘father’ by virtue of coming from the state has not been as forthcoming as he, Masari, and certainly many in the state would have expected.
Speaking recently at a forum Masari gave vent to the tempest storming in his mind. It was a last resort of some sort. He beckoned on the distraught people of Katsina State to take up the gauntlet, and confront the bandits squarely. He stopped short of declaring that he was tired of the insecurity regime in the state; thus he charged them to arise and defend themselves.
Masari spoke at the inauguration of Katsina Joint Security Operations and Communication Control Centre, in the state capital. He averred that it was absurd that the people were being charged not to fight for themselves against the continuous onslaught of bandits currently ruling the landscape like demigods.
Hear the embattled governor: “Why should I sit in my village and be only making telephone calls without doing anything?
“Every bandit, every criminal has an address, has a location, and they are human beings like us. The only difference is that they have taken arms against us; does it mean we have nothing to take against them?”
Some analysts believe that Masari’s recent outburst mirrors helpless. It lends credence to a man overwhelmed on all fronts. Broken down because there is no breakthrough in sight. He did not care a hoot if his political traducers would make a meal of his entry. He did not care a hoot if he would be misunderstood and misinterpreted. He just gave his emotions free rein. He was clear, not minding whose horse would feel gored. Of course, his statement was not mere happenstance. He must have been weighing everything in his heart.
Having said what he said, Masari joined the league of those who earlier spoke on existential terms, calling on the people to rise and do the needful or be wiped out. Then they were vilified. But now the chicken is coming home to roost. And the people know better.
Expectedly, the opposition had to latch on the embattled governor’s submission.
An arm of the Katsina State People’s Democratic Party – the People’s Democratic Party Social Media Organisation led by Comrade Nuraddeen Adam Kankara Tina, added another twist to the debacle.
In apparent mockery of the governor’s clarion call, Kankara Tina announced that his group would be confronting the Katsina bandits with catapults, adding that they had ordered some quantity of the item to fight the hoodlums who have been holding the state by the jugular. To that end, they said their members had commenced catapult training in response to the governor’s call.
“We embarked on the exercise in compliance with the recent directive issued by the Katsina State government and we are determined to expand the exercise across local government areas of the state,” he said.
For the uninitiated, the vibes from Katsina sounds as pedestrian as it can be. But it drives home the telling reality breaking right before everyone in Nigeria of the 21st Century. It is a true picture of the helplessness and hopelessness of both the governing and the governed. It goes straight to elevate bandits and banditry to the status of a new powerhouse on the block. Everything about that is happening too fast – too quickly. Increasingly, no one has an answer and might not have one in the near future.
When pockets of bandits first announced their presence on the Katsina firmament, way back in 2019, no one took them seriously. Armed gangs wielding AK-47 assault rifles had begun roaming the villages, rustling cows and stealing food and demanding relief materials. Every attempt by the now hapless villagers to stop them turned futile and in some cases fatal. Gradually the criminality went on.
Every step taken by the men of the underworld got them emboldened. Next, they carved out ungoverned spaces in the vast Rugu forested area bordering Niger Republic and Zamfara State.
They burst onto the scene proper when in February 2020, they start attack on a mass scale, imposing taxes on the farmers, many of whom they refused access to their farms. Those who tried to play pranks paid with their blood.
In April same year, they killed 47 persons in Danmusa, Dutsemna and Safana villages in the state. It was a simultaneous mass murder – carried out in the wee hour of the night. About 300 armed men did the deed.
The army, police, airforce and other security agencies’ responses so far have not deterred them. Everything was futile.
When a gang of bandits kidnapped a relative of President Buhari months ago, it was a clear statement that they were well on their way. Gradually the armed gangs multiplied in numbers and expanded their frontier.
Months ago, they stormed Kankara Secondary School also in Katsina State and took away young boys, whom they later released after ransom was paid. Now, they have gone weird and wild, triggering fears that they are here to rule and reign. And now, government at all levels are forlorn, defeated and disillusioned. Any wonder then why Masari has urged self help?